Showing posts with label Thomson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thomson. Show all posts

Monday, June 23, 2014

Warn the town, the beast is back..... A 2012 St. Louis River Flood Retrospective...

Thomson, MN- June 20th 2012 6.10am
 I wish I could have posted this up on Friday, the exact anniversary of this event but alas life is, how do you say a bit hectic right now.

That said, two years ago this week this is the calamity that my small town of Thomson, MN was dealing with.

It all started for Margaret, Tae and I at 4am with a knock on the front door and an emergency evac.  I would love to say that it has ended, but the reality is that even after two years it has not.

The cruel irony of a natural disaster is that not only is the initial impact of the event destructive, the recovery is as well.

Two years on, the Thomson Res. is still not working and has yet to be filled.
The Forbay Canal, while finished by Minnesota Power has yet to be generating power.

 Many of the trails we have lost in Jay Cooke State Park are still in ruins as well as many bridges that connected them.  Highway 210 is still closed with no clear communication as to if it will be re-opened.  Things that have been fixed, have been changed dramatically to fit new criteria and standards, many of those being more impactful than the flood itself.


Vermillion Ave, Thomson MN 6/21/12
The reality is that there is no happy ending to an event like the one we experienced in Thomson and in Duluth in June 2012.  The impacts resound for years and years afterwards.

I will say it is uncanny how similar this seasons rain events have been to 2012.  Amazingly in our small region the water levels are starting to drop, but I watch with bated breath as communities to our south and our north struggle with a near perfect copy of our 2012 experience.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

T-Res Tour Winter 2012: Fat Bike Freedom

Braap!!

Fisherman's friends.  Claw your way to safety (as you float on your fat assed tires!)

Braap!! Braaaaap!!

This one is for Gaddo....

Stellars and Hoars....

No rocks are safe

Da boys

The moon
Elbow room


Sauna time.  No better way to end a perfect day on the bike
When I was 14 (and that was a long time ago) I bought my first mountain bike.  It was a Schwinn High Sierra.  Bad ass.  I truly thought I could ride anywhere and I tried to.  That bike broke every day.  I went to my local Schwinn dealer so much that finally at one point the owner of the shop had to sit me down and actually tell me that I COULD NOT ride anywhere.  Well that dude was wrong ( I thought so--gnashes teeth) and winter fat biking has proven that to me.

Total freedom on a bike is a heady experience.  It occurs to me that Fat Biking's dirty little secret is that you dont want a LOT of snow, what you want is a minimum of snow and lot of ice.  Endless miles of it.  Safe thick ribbons of it.  Slap about 3 inches of snow on that and you have wild riding at its best.

Have a foot of snow and your grooming.  An insane experience in itself, I think that the Marquette boys have this nailed, because they have to....you would groom a ton too if you were getting a foot of lake effect snow a week as well.  But we are not.  Instead we are getting optimal conditions for unmitigated winter cycling travel.  Point and shoot.  I am cool with that, I will take mine fully organic if I have to.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of off road cycling over the years.  I am loving the fully dialed, pro built trails that are being created for summer use.  Places like Copper Harbor, or the new trail at Spirit Mountain.  Those trails are things of beauty, however I have to say it is so great to see that in the winter I am able to light off and ride nearly uninhibited, to go back to 14 and my first bike, to giggle like an adolescent getting away with something he shouldn't.

Thanks to Rudy, Eric, Carl and Tom for taking the time to ride today.  It was amazing, our tour had it all.  Huge open expanses on the River, plunging falls, hollow cracking ice (I, the camera man went through the most) and ripping single track at Tom's place.  Followed of course with a smoking hot sauna and a cold, cold beer.

  I have a ton of great shots of the day, it did occur to me that Rudy tends to get the most love from the lens, but I am realizing that it not just because Rudy is a killer rider, because Eric is as well, it more likely is that Rudy is a ripping rider who always wears bright colors!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Backstory: Japanese Fat Bike Photo 2012

BIG in Japan

The boys
So this is pretty cool.  First off thanks to Jason Boucher and Mike Reimer for pulling me into this.  Last season, as most of us remember was a horrible winter.  However it was ideal for Fat Biking...like perfect.  The Res was totally frozen with just enough snow to need a Fat Bike but also just a little so it was super fast and really fun.  Salsa, was looking for a place to host several Japanese retailers and journalists for a Snow ride.  Of course there was not a lick of snow anywhere south of Thomson, so we lucked out and were the place to host them.  It was truly a fun day.

 Perfect conditions, really fun folks and to have it remembered in a mag is pretty awesome.  Hard to see, but the inset photo is of me as well, riding through the rapids on the Upper St. Louis.  You can see the original post on this ride right here.... Crazy to think that Thomson, MN is in an Japanese catalog or magazine.  Light years away from the chaos and destruction that the flood wrought only a few months later.

 Now the big question is this, how do I get a copy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Things we lost in the flood: Thomson, MN and St. Louis River Flood 2012

Flood damage to brookie stream

Stream just before June Flooding

Typical brookie before flood

More stream damage
We are just learning what we truly lost in the flood earlier this summer.  As the winter comes on and the foliage dies off you can finally start to get a sense of the damage.  You can see the wounds that the earth has sustained and they are impressively deep.  My favorite stream is no exception.  The amount of water that surged through the watershed must have been insane.  The stream is completely blown out.  Holes that once had great structure are completely filled with sand.  Large amounts of streambank are just gone and of course now in the watershed.  Hundreds of trees are leaning into the water, many having torn out the bank with them.  Debris is choking the water.

I am usually pretty mum about where I fish and I am going to be the same on this post although many people may recognize the stream if they are local.  This was my number one brookie stream in the area. It was close, accessible and full of great fishing.  I can honestly say I am in mourning on this one.  Most of the flood damage has been a bitter sweet situation.  Destruction on a grand scale, which is lamentable, yet a changed landscape that offers new recreational opportunities.  This stream is not the case, it has changed for sure, but it is obvious that currently it is not for the better...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friends are family

Shauna leads the way
Aaron and Elias tell the stories
I am one busy person.  I admit that I struggle to balance family, friends and work and a lot of people could tell you about my success or failings at that.

This week has been so great, such a breath of fresh air.  The world has seemed to land in Duluth these past days and we have had a plethora of amazing people crossing our doorstep and hanging out with Tae.  What a blessing to be involved with such interesting people and to have them interact, educate and influence my kids life experience.

Thanks to Shauna for swinging by as she moves to Ghana and to Aaron and Elias, perhaps two of the best trail builders in the country right now hanging out and roasting marshmallows with Tae.  These are people that lead their lives from the sharp end and if Tae can learn one thing from this chaos laden father of his, it is live, learn and play with people like these....

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kids and caddis: Teaching Tae to fish. at age four.

Umm tasty

Whoa daddy...WHOA!

Anybody know this bug?? Sure were a lot of them on the water!

It makes me smile to think that at age four my kid is already progressing past quarter sized sun fish and moving on to 15 inch plus Smallmouth!  I am already constructing a kids fly rod out of a broken rod I have laying around in the barn to get him casting.  He has already mastered his Zebco Spider man rod and seems to have the ability to move on... we will see!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

"Bassin" as Flood therapy: Smallmouth style!

Carving turns in my Wenonah Advantage, looking for smallies!

Eric shows off a hawg

Daves canoe and Thomson Res Fireworks
While the res and the river have changed dramatically due to the flood, one thing has at least stayed constant.  Good fishing, good people and good times.  Thanks to my luck stars for that.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Life in the "D" zone: Thomson, MN Flood 2012

Water and sewer are almost back on line
Tae playing in the water storage tanks on Dalles ave, Thomson MN

Marg and Tae having a swim

Hot sauna bathroom love.  You wont be missed
Man I have had my share of water this month.  First way too much of it, then not enough of it.  Once the waters receded we were left with no water or sewer.  Because of that huge clean water storage tanks were put on the street.  Mainly for washing.  Porta Poties were also put on the street as well.  So we had the ability to rinse stuff and also to use a toilet.  Bottled water was what we were using in the house for cooking and drinking.  This weekend, they were able to get the sewer and water temporarily on line.  However the water in the lines is full of chemicals and is as of yet, still not able to be used for health reasons.  However we do have the ability to use our sewer system.  Ah, what a luxury that feels like now!  Something about Porta Potties in 90 degree heat...  Since the water is now on line they are removing the storage tanks and because of that, Marg and Tae had a celebratory swim!

Minnesota Governors Office Press Conference: Thomson, MN Flood 2012

Nice close and flood debris

Promises amidst destruction

Engineers explain the loss of our water and sewer lines to the river

Meanwhile, despite the lack of a disaster declaration:  Thomson residents clean up
To get Federal assistance a region must first be declared a disaster zone by the state legislature and the Governor of Minnesota.  In order to make that happen, state representatives need to view the damage and report the costs of the loses due to the disaster.  Thomson, MN became the site of the reporting of those damages last week.  It was interesting to see suited folks wandering the disaster zone, amid the debris and waste caused by the flood.  People just kept cleaning while the state reps and the Lt. Governor walked around almost as though they were in a museum, pointing, nodding and exclaiming oohs and ahhs as they put together what had happened to our town.  It seemed very unreal and although it was meant to call attention to Thomson's plight, it actually made me feel like we were even more on our own.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The lost files: Thomson, MN/ Jay Cooke Flood 2012

Dane Johnson wading down Dalles Ave, Thomson MN
This is the first frame I took on Dalles Ave in Thomson, MN.  The time is about 6.30 am on Wednesday June 20th.  Unfortunately this shot most likely killed my 16 Gig CF card.  As you can see it was pouring buckets, as it had been doing for hours and hours.  I ended up shooting the full card but it finally shut down and refused to work and I was unable to download the images I had on it.  Frustrating as there are certainly some interesting shots of the peak of the storm itself.  However, thanks to Ryan Marshik of Irent Photo I am able to salvage some shots.  He is using some of his magic software to tease out as many of my shots as possible from the defective CF Card.

Thanks again Ryan!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Boots on the Ground Thomson, MN Flood 2012: Christian Aid Ministries Volunteers

Many hands make short work

These folks make piles go away

Boots on the ground

Pete's stuga 

Lunch at town hall everyday till its gone

Boots and hats off for lunch

Hauling endless stuff to the piles on the street
I have alluded to the help we have had from the Christian Aid Ministries Disaster relief team.  These folks brought in around 20-30 people from all over the midwest.  They are Mennonite and Amish followers of Christ.   Without their help, we would still be swimming in debris, there is no doubt about it.  The double rub with a small community like Thomson is that most folks dont have the choice to not work.  That said, many folks were either cleaning at night when off shift or were coming in on off days when they had time.  Because of that there were maybe only 4-5 people who were around full time to coordinate and also lend a hand in the actual cleaning process.  The Christian volunteers filled that gap and it made a huge difference for our town.  So many, many thanks to those folks.

I have had a few fun interactions with some of the volunteers, from Slyvan and the bike to watching as Pete Koski showed off his beer drinking glass. Which as you can imagine was not something an Amish kid most likely had been exposed to.  Later when Koski was relating that he had hand dug his basement I muttered that I could not relate to that at all....however all the Amish kids laughed and said they certainly could!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jay Cooke, Thomson MN Flood: Clean up begins

Tools of the job.  Rubber boots and chainsaws

Life begins to move on and the kids drive it forward

Pete Koski's rider shot into Jay Cooke State Park from a 1/4 mile away

Again, sorry for the lack of posts.  Life has been on fast forward since I was last able to gain internet access.  When I last posted we were waiting out the crest of the St.Louis River.  It took until Sat afternoon for the water to drop behind the dikes of the res.  Once it did it was a matter of less than an hour for the main flows through town to stop.  I paddled to our house at 6am and drove in at 1pm.  The river is still at record levels but I feel like we are well past the exposure we were dealing with earlier in the week.

It was such a bizarre existence from Tuesday until Sat.  My only tools for travel were my canoe and my bike.  On top of that I was constantly on the sharp end, or at least felt that way.  It was a adrenaline high for a week straight and I came to remember and realize that I operate at full capacity in that type of situation.  I have been in a few life threatening situations in my life and have had the same realization.  However, now after four days of living on that juice, the hangover has begun.  When the events are happening you are basically a spectator, once they stop the hard work of digging out begins and the grief and depression comes with it.

Marg and I came out unscathed.  It is unbelievable the bullet we dodged.  Because of that we both have been going full tilt trying to help our neighbors who were not so lucky.  I spent most of Sunday either at the city hall helping haul Red Cross supplies or with people at the homes digging for lost items and helping them dry stuff out.  To bring our community back to its state of operation we are all going to have to work really hard.  The FEMA process is complicated and time consuming and we have a volunteer government to make it happen.  Because of that I hope to lend a hand whenever and wherever possible.

We are now going to be living without water and sewer facilities.  Porta Potties have been set up in the town at intervals so we can use them and they are dropping off cases of bottled water to get us started.  We will be in this type of state for weeks if not longer until the water lines are re-built and the sewer lines are fixed.

I have met many of my neighbors and have made more friends than I have ever had in the community, I have also met some I dont care to meet again!  But all in all I am amazed and inspired by the people who live near me.  I watched as Pete Koski, perhaps the most devastated home owner in the town returned to his home.  It is just smashed.  The first thing he did was to walk up to his fire number sign that was laying in a mud puddle.  He picked it up, took a rock and hammered it firmly and proudly upright in front of his house.  There was no question of what to do or where to start, he just did it....

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thomson, MN: St. Louis River Flood 2012

Thomson, MN Vermillion Street extraction this is west of our house about a block.
The CFS spike.  we are just starting to see a leveling off as of today...three days after the event

The remains of Vermillion Street, Thomson MN
Neighbors across the street coming home for the first time.

Hwy 210 looking up to Vermillion Street Thomson, MN  The top of the street is the dike.

 Ken Jorgenson and Greg Williamson waiting for their riders on Dalles ave, Thomson MN.  Our front yard.

Remains of Forbay Canal.  Our backyard is near that dam at the end of the canal.
Zimny paddles by our front door

Boys and their toys

The pump that gave its life for us.  Changing this out mid flood is a good story in itself.

Mug in the back 40 walking towards the Forebay Dam

Coast guard extraction Vermillion Street, Thomson MN

 Welcome to Dalles Ave, Thomson MN

First floor, highest spot in the house
Our home, the canoe parking spot.  This is after the water receded.  It had reached nearly to the garage.

Mug watching the festvities


Free chopper rides
First off, thanks so much to all the people who have offered support and hope.  You folks are really helping us a lot.  Right now the situation is still tenuous.  Most folks in Duluth are cleaning up "after' the big storm.  For those of us who live on the St. Louis River, the storm has not yet ended.  So to those people, I say, please hang in there and good luck.  Especially those folks in Fond Du Lac as that is ultimately where all this water is heading.

A couple of things to note.  First off I believe the St. Louis River is the biggest watershed in the Lake Superior Basin, if not it is close.  The reason we live where we live is because of the amazing recreational opportunities that the river offers.  One of those being whitewater paddling.  The Scanlon to Thomson Run is considered high water at 5,000 CFS according to the MN DNR.  Most people are hitting it at around 1,000 during the summer.  Right now it is at 43,800.  It crested at over 44,000.  This is unprecedented and although the river has just started to crest, we may not see a significant drop in days.

Right now our house is surrounded on all sides by major flooding water courses.  On the east we have water flowing over the levy behind us and that water is basically head high and in the east side of the towns houses.  Behind us you have the Thomson, Res and the start of the Forebay Canal, completely overflowing.  To our west the natural river course swings by then circles under us to the south.  So right now you cant get to our home unless you paddle in.

Currently, even after a dramatic rise in water, which came up to the front of the house, we are dry.  It is a miracle.  But that does not mean this is a done deal.  Water is still flowing over the tops of the dikes by several inches.  Currently MN Power is holding back water, I am not sure why, but I assume to protect the even bigger population downstream in Fond Du Lac.  That said, this levy system was build in 1907.  It is old and it is stressed.  If these levys let go, then the town will be inundated with water and the damage we sustain will be extensive.  If you were to go to my house and see how close things really are you would be pretty stunned, pictures cant do it justice.  In other words right now we are in slow mo terror.  Sleeping is tough as you can imagine, the head games are pretty easy to get into.  What to haul out?  What to leave in?  Should we even be visiting the house?

I want to make sure and thank Mike Bushey and Matt Weik for all the help on Wed.  You guys saved us up to this point.  Bushey helped me pile loads of items from our basement upstairs and Matt helped me replace my sump pump after it seized up and failed. God rest its soul it did its work until that point.  We also need to thank Dave and Bobby Larson, who are out of town but let us use their house while they are away.  It is a mile from ours but up on a large hill.  We can vividly hear the roar of the flood from their front porch.  I also need to thank IMBA.  I have been out of touch but folks are understanding and have been insanely supportive, what a great place to work and what amazing people to work with.

Yesterday I spent the day shoring up defenses and looking at the overall situation.  It is grim.  People in my town are suffering.  The state park and the bike trails are destroyed.  As of yesterday there were still rescues and extractions going on.  I used all my local knowledge of trails and hideaways to get the shots I did and I was continually pulled from watching tragedy and then running headlong into the stunning beauty of why I live where I do.  Those realizations made me cry and I was working in an emotional state of seeing the wonder of where I live and its destruction all at the same time.  We also spent a lot of time hauling folks in and out who had not been at their houses yet.  We have canoes, and anybody who did was lending a hand.  Ken Jorgenson and Greg Willams were the town water taxi yesterday as they ferried folks in and out.

I dont have time to write this whole story so it will have to come in successive posts, which unfortunately has we dont have internet will be spread out over time.  Please keep in touch on Facebook and text and we will let you know once the all clear has actually been sounded........